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30 January 2005
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KLB - Reader Mail

I've been getting a lot more mail than usual lately for some reason and have been having a hard time keeping up with replying. Sorry if I have been short with a few of you. Please know that I do read and appreciate everyone's email. I thought I would let you take a look at some recent mail:

Dear Shawn,

I've already decided that I'm secretly in love with you. Your apparent love of Radiohead already means that you're a decent human being. Well, actually--I'm being highly dramatic b/c it's sometimes hilarious to do that (but only if people don't take you seriously). but, in any case--I someday dream about spanking your immensely cute bum. hahahaaa!

grain of salt, my friend.... grain of salt.

okay, so a few things. Firstly--you should log onto friendster.com and check out my profile under "Sumi." I don't want to continue enumerating things on my (most likely) irrelevant list of things I'd like to imagine that you would actually check out. So, these are in random order.... Yes, kimchi is highly addictive and yes--its chock full of lovely sodium. However, unless you have some sort of rare allergy or condition, it won't really effect you--save for the occasional pummeling to your bloated ddonk-bae by Julie (she rocks). You should check out "The Man Who Ate Everything" by Jeffery Steingarten. I'm a foodie at heart. I graduated from the French Culinary Institute in SoHo and worked at 'cesca for a few months on the upper west side. My passion for food is only slightly overshadowed by my love of writing and art and film. I'll be starting my program at the NY Film Academy in February. yay! =) Of course, nothing is really more powerful than a food craving--except when you want to spank someone. hard. with a truly professional-like flicker of the wrist. deft. quick. lovely. that might prove to be more urgent. I would also like for you to watch the movie, "Tampopo," by Juzo Itami. Simply Amazing. One of my most favorite movies. Its about his social commentary about the Japanese culture of food. food as sex, competition, sport, excess, family, power and control, class structure, taboo, etc., etc., etc. And yes, I own "The Way Home." bought it last year. It's a beautiful story--even more beautifully filmed and performed. glad to know that you could appreciate it for being more than, "that's cute."

alright, I can already see that you're starting to back away from this email--hands up--palms out...tiptoeing ever so slowly out the door. well--STOP! I know you want to read more. At least, let's pretend that you do.

I don't like all of the pictures of Korean girls draped over cars, dancing the hoochie-mama in the middle of the street in sweet, sunny moments of the day, and whatever else they do. It truly makes me feel the deepest pang in the heaviest part of my heart. unexplainable horror and sadness fill my emotions and I'm left profoundly disgusted. I can't help my pity. I don't want to pity them, but--understanding the superficiality of the Korean community supercedes my desperate attempts to dissuade these notions of radical feminist female-empowerment. I don't believe that these girls just don't have the same sort of strength that girls in the same type of profession might be able to attain here. They just don't have the guts and balls and, I'm sure, don't see the glory in possessing something powerful and special in their "femaleness." I can only hope that there are exceptions--that I'm totally wrong--that the sometimes-alienating, often-crude, coarse and harsh nature of Korean opinion will possibly change sometime soon. I try not to see these girls as weak. But, being born into even a Korean-American family, as a girl, with female genitalia, and all of the Korean (men's) connotations associated with that...it's extremely hard not to. Even so, my optimism persists through my dissonance. I'm SURE it's really not as bad as I'm perceiving it to be at the moment. I can recognize that Korean feminism has come a long way. But, not neeeearly enough to make me feel comfortable. Neither has their relationship to American GIs...but that's an entirely different chapter I don't want to get into right now. sad.

your friend don is cool as all hell. I know you already know this. but I had to give the man his due respect. the only way to do that was to mention it to you. he's a keeper. it's so nice to hear that there are still lots of decent people out there. I've been through a lot (but who hasn't?), and seen a lot for my time...but I can't help but remark on the good nature that kind people inherently possess. I'd like to think of myself as one of these people. At the same time, I think it somewhat odd and strange for me to make a donation to your cause...for the moment anyway. I'm not exactly sure what this correspondence will bring me, you understand, as it is my very first time writing you. I don't really have expectations. If anything, this email might just be a sounding board for me. Although, I hate the thought of using a stranger to do this. I hope you don't think that this is my intention. I hope you are not offended, but I doubt that your good nature would actually allow this. Even so, my constantly self-deprecating nature makes it necessary for me to apologize to you in advance.

I love the photographer side of you. The sheer volume of food pictures is enough to get me off, but I also admire the observations that you make. your open cupboard. the beggar. the ajummas sitting on crates. your friends (eating or drinking things). the silkworms in the box on the back of the moped(retch!) your students and their crazy lessons and homework and artwork.

um. as a professional in the food industry...? buying meat off the TV makes me cringe. but then again, Koreans are obsessed with Spam. We Americans introduced Spam to Korea in the 50's when the war was starving everybody. Koreans are obsessed with salt. Koreans like excess fat in their meat. Koreans love "meat." Koreans have an addictive nature. I think that's why Spam is so much more popular in Korea than in other (mostly) Asian populations. The Hawaiians hold the trophy in Spam addiction. But then again, there are lots of Korean-Hawaiians. In any case--my mommy used to make me Spam and kimchi bokkeum-bap with fried eggs. mmmmmmm!!!!! yes, I'll savor raw Malpeque oysters swimming in a vodka "mignonette," served up in a martini glass and toast with a glass of lovely Chateau Margot...but oooohhHHH GOOOOOD!!! you must try this. lawdy, lawdy! Lawd, have mercy! Hallelujah. Amen. but then again, you probably know about both of these little tidbits I'm attempting to share with you.

mmmmmm.... nummy nummy num nums in my tummy tummy tum tums!! =) heeeeeee....!

eeeeewie. I just read your Nov. 21. ddong-chim is foul, vile, and should never be done or mentioned ever again. but in any case, I thought this to be directly correlated to my feelings on Korean mens' scewed mindset when it comes to women. now. no more. sssshhh!

the pictures of the terrible conditions of those computer game addicted boys were very painful. It's strange how Korean parents would ignore and dismiss that as either nothing or as "laziness," or being "bad," instead of a true cry for help. hm....

anyway, I want to have a drink with you at the ugly bar! I want to see what's inside. =) but, of course, I would need to take at least and hour and a half to doll myself up. yes, I'm that self-conscious and self-deprecating. am I'm such a girly-girl! in a very robust, healthy, sunny American sort of way. not in that waifish, ghostly white, "I'm too weak and slightly anemic" sort of strict Korean way. but in any case--my point is that I'd still be self-conscious...even at the Ugly Bar.

you should buy me a "Pama" Puma-rip off shirt. I would totally pee myself. okay--so there really wouldn't be damp denim involved b/c that's a horrible idea. but--it's freaking hilarious. halmunnee's are obsessed with black pama/Korean Gerry-curl. I don't get it.

okay. what-heifer! <---- That's the former valley girl in me. I was born and raised in Southern California LA/Orange County. I'm one of those rare Koreans that actually doesn't really like to live there. Except for Santa Cruz or San Francisco--Northern Cali.

in any case. the truth is you probably don't care, and probably won't read this. I must admit--I stopped reading after a while, but read off a decent chunk of your blog. I took my time in studying the pictures.

So, I just wanted to thank you. I enjoyed it. =)



I've been reading your blog and it's so interesting. My latest 'obssession' is korea and your blog certainly keeps my appetite satisfied. :) I want to be an english teacher there but i'm not taking up educations...too bad. I'm taking up Communication Arts and i'm hoping to get a few units in education so maybe i could venture into teaching. I just think korea is soooo cool! :) i'm even self-studying the korean language. i can write and read (very slowly) korean writing but of course, i don't know what it all means. :) plese continue writing about korea okay? oh and i read that you've been to the philippines. i live there. :) it might not be the greatest country but gotta love what you have right? :) i'm a fan! :)

Love Lots,

Hello Shawn and Julie,

As a semi-regular reader of your Korealife blog, I was
amazed to do a Google search today on "Malamute +
Seoul" and have your website come up.... so now I am
kicking myself that I was not a more regular reader...

Anyway, long story short, but still a long shot.... my
partner and I are Malamute lovers and would be more
than willing to take in any Malamute rescue
puppy/dog... so, if you are ever in a similar
situation, or know of someone who wants to "get rid"
of a suddenly-very-large-and-not-so-cute-and-fluffy
Malamute, please feel free to contact me and we will
happily take in a new family member. We have a good
house and small but reasonable yard here in Seoul, and
will be moving back to the more open space of
Australia in early 2006.

As I said, I realise that your September Malamute
encounter was probably a one-in-a-million chance
already, but hey... if there is a Malamute out there
in Seoul looking for a loving home, we want to know
about it!! We have already (in Australia) "rescued"
two Malamutes, both of which have sadly passed on
since (cancer, and snakebite). We have been holding
off getting another Mooty until we got back to
Australia, mainly because we figured that the city of
Seoul was not a place to raise a big dog BUT - if our
current place could still offer a Moot a more
comfortable existance, then we would love to have
another fluffy addition to the family.

Thank you for your time in reading this email - I
realise this must seem a bit excessive, given that you
have only posted a few cute photos on your site, and
almost six months ago at that... but anyway, if there
is even the slightest chance that a Malamute will find
a better home out of this email, it will be worth it.

I greatly enjoy reading the Korealife blog and will
certainly continue to check back even after our return
home - best wishes and, please, keep posting!

Kind regards,

Hi there Shawn!

I'm guessing that you've heard this before, but thank you for posting
your life in Korea online. I've been looking to begin some sort of a
career in ESL in Asia for a while now and you have been a great
inspiration to me. I've just finished reading your entire online blog
today and am seriously considering ordering one of your books. Your
adventures(or is it misadventures?) have been enlightening,
educational and entertaining for me. Thank you for spending the time
that you do posting your life for the world to see. I mean that.

I'm currently in the process of finding my own teaching job in Korea.
As is the case with so many others(it seems), I've decided to start my
own blog. It's mainly for my family and friends to see what I'm
doing, but also to put my experiences on the internet for others to
possibly read in the same way that you have posted your life online
for others. If you're at all curious, the URL is
www.mrcheslock.blogspot.com. Of course, this e-mail isn't meant to
promote myself to you, but to thank you so much for what you have done
for me.

Thanks for all that you've done, whether you know it or not,


Just a note to say I enjoy your blog. I'm thinking about teaching in
Korea and your site is invaluable. Whether I do or don't come to Korea,
though, KLB is a great way to learn about Korean culture.

Skowhegan, ME

PS. Coincidentally, I went to school in Syracuse, so I know well the
upstate NY area that you mention occasionally.

Dear Shawn:

Just finished reading your book, I loved it. I read it cover to cover in three days. It brought back a lot of great and not so great memories of my time in Korea.

Once again, great job and I look forward to the sequel!


My favorite quote from the entire book:

" I took a deep breath and a sip of the hot coffee. A whole world of mystery lay before me, and this was just the beginning. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so excited to face a new day."

A lot of the stuggles people have is that they don't do enough to inspire these types of feelings. They become trapped, bitter and angry at those around them. My mom can't understand why I like change so much...I should share this passage with her and then she'd know. Keep up the great work Shawn and thanks for making me feel good about my Korea experience all over again!


7. (This one is quite funny...)
Hello shawn Mathews,

The first thing I must say is thank you. I found your web page to be extremely informative! I'm planning on taking a trip to makati city. Possibly sometime in may. I will be travelling alone as you did. Except I will be meeting a girlfriend of mine that lives there. I only know her through communicating on the internet from a dating site called asianeuro.com. I am trying to be as careful as possible. So I have been learning as much about her and about where she lives as possible. If you could please, I would like to get your taxi drivers phone# and the # of any other nice taxi driver that you have used. Also if you have any safety tips for me it would be greatly appreciated. I origanally grew up in new york all my life , but now I live in the southern part of jersey. So I think I wouldn't feel to bad being in makati. It reminds me of a bad part of brooklyn were many times I was the only white guy in a 8 mile radius.

I'm curiuos to know, What was the name of the girl on the right in your picture that you were interested in. The reason I ask is because she has a striking resemblance to the girl that I am going to see in may. Also what freaked me out was the fact that the girl that I am speaking to also has a contract with a promoter in japan. And this promoter provides her with a visa and she has also mentioned to me that she has done group performance dancing there as well. Also, What type of enternaining job did this girl have over in japan?

Shane carlson

I stumbled upon your blog and thought it was very interesting... How long have you been in Korea? I always found the summer seasons there really irritating. Too hot, humid and full of mosquitoes, too. But it's good to know that you are having a good time there. I've heard from couple of friends who visited Japan that the students there do the weirdest things to teachers... like a thing called "Kachou" which is putting your fingers against each other and direct them into someone's anus... And it's also weird to see how many people seem to have weird/demented ideas towards foreigners... like "they smell like meat" (popular Japanese myth, I hear) or they are sex-crazed maniacs like you mentioned... one of the arguments I've even heard was that these "foreigners" have a differnet hormone altogether... Go figure... I don't know about those kids, but when I myself was there, I remember that lots of the kids had a pretty good impression about foreigners... They didn't have any of those weird ideas, haha. Well, wish you a happy new year in Korea, though it's very late... haha, it was fun reading your entries.



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